The Sahara papers row has been staged as a battle between Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At a rally in Mehsana on Wednesday, Gandhi accused Modi of taking bribes from the Sahara Group. Modi replied from another bully pulpit in Varanasi, laughing off the charges, saying Gandhi’s promised earthquake had been dodged.

But the papers should not be reduced to a duel between Gandhi and Modi. Gandhi made no novel allegations – Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has for a month now strenuously tried to draw attention to the controversial documents, which were seized during an income tax raid on the offices of the business group.

They also came up before the Supreme Court, which felt there was scant evidence against Modi. Besides, the prime minister is not the only person named in the papers.

Dramatis personae

According to reports, the Sahara documents – include 11 pages of “payment entries”. These list leaders from parties across the political spectrum – the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, the Trinamool Congress, the Biju Janata Dal, the Bhartiya Kisan Union, the Shiv Sena and the Lok Janshakti Party.

Apart from Modi, who allegedly makes an appearance as “CM Gujarat”, four entities stand out, according to this report. Unlike the other names, they have specific dates and amounts attached to them. “CM Chhattisgarh” is alleged to have received Rs 4 crore on October 1, 2013. “CM Delhi” is alleged to have got Rs 1 crore on September 23 the same year. Meanwhile, “CM MP” was allegedly given Rs 10 crore between September 29 and October 1, 2013. Shaina NC, treasurer for the BJP in Maharashtra, allegedly got Rs 5 crore between September 10, 2013, and January 28, 2014.

Going by the dates mentioned and assuming that CM stood for “chief minister”, the papers would seem to refer to Raman Singh, chief minister of Chhattisgarh; Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh; and Sheila Dikshit, former chief minister of Delhi. sent email to these four politicians asking for their response to the allegations, but is yet to receive a response. This article will be updated when they respond.

All together now

Doubts have been cast on the authenticity of the Sahara papers and officials in the special investigation team on black money allege that some pages may have been fabricated. The court is set to consider the papers again on January 11.

If proved genuine, the implications of the Sahara papers go far beyond the bout of finger-wagging between prime minister and Congress scion. The contents of the Sahara papers, if authentic, threaten to sweep the Congress into controversy as well – Dikshit was not only a long-time chief minister of Delhi, she is the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh elections, only a few months away. The contents of the controversial documents could be a sweeping indictment of the country’s political class. That calls for an investigation, at the very least.